Nikolas Motta (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

28-year-old Mexican prospect Manuel “El Loco” Torres continued his first-round finish streak ending his UFC debut via TKO in the first 3:27 of the fight. Torres has a professional record of 13-2 and all but one of his fights have ended in the first round.

Nikolas “Iron” Motta, 30, has gone 1-1 since entering the UFC. He dropped his debut to the ageless Jim Miller via 2nd round TKO. He bounced six months later and earned his own first-round TKO.

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Betting Odds

Torres opened just north of a -150 favorite; but, as money has come in on his side, Torres has grown as the favorite.

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Fight Breakdown

A fighter with 12 of his 13 wins coming in the first round is not overly difficult to break down nor is his style very subtle. Torres fights like his hair is on fire and throws dynamite on the feet. From the first second of the fight, Torres looks for the finish.

Everything “El Loco” throws he throws with everything he has, swinging for the fences, Torres looks for the knockout blow each time he lets his hands go. Torres primarily throws looping hooks but will mix in faster and more technical straight shots when fighting from his back foot. It’s rare to see Torres pushes back or countered because of the constant barrage of his strikes.

However, when he is met with force, Torres has poor striking defense and poor footwork. Put simply, Torres is an all-action fighter with natural power and a killer instinct but he is a fighter rather than a mixed martial artist, lacking refined technique and unproven cardio.

Motta is a crisp and heavy-handed boxer who tends to throw in combination through blitz attacks. When he’s at his best, Motta fights behind a jab, uses fundamental footwork to cut and create angles, and unloads fast-handed combinations working the body and head. The issue, so far in his career, is we have not yet seen Motta at his best.

Thus far, in his two UFC fights, Motta has headhunted, rushed his combinations, and entered ill-advised firefights where he risked relying on his exposed chin in favor of looking for his own knockout blow. In this 50/50 type of fight, Motta lost his debut and won his bounce back fight.

As his 1-1 record suggests, this style is not sustainable nor predictable. But, as I said, this is not Motta at his best. Motta has shown glimpses, primarily in his DWCS fight, of being a more refined boxer who carries power rather than a headhunting brawler who only has boxing form. He’ll need to put on a complete performance, not just glimpses of positive attributes, to win Saturday night.

Prediction and Best Bet

An interesting angle to this fight, albeit one I don’t expect to see, is Torres’ grappling advantage compared to Motta’s difficulty in defending takedowns. I fully expect this fight to play out on the feet as long as it lasts; but, if Torres decides to wrestle, he should have no problem landing a takedown.

If the fight stays standing, though, Torres will likely only have 5 minutes to win the fight. Even though his cardio is unproven, it is unlikely that his all-action style can continue much longer than the first round.

If Motta’s chin can hold up in the first 5 minutes, he should have the advantage. Motta will be cleaner on the feet, is able to push a more consistent pace, and can still land with real power. I expect this fight to go much like Randy Costa vs Yanez and Randy Costa vs Toney Kelly.

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Torres, just like Costa, is as dangerous as can be for the first round. But, more technical, and still dangerous fighters themselves, who can withstand the early onslaught, can find success in rounds 2 and 3. Motta’s chin, tendency to headhunt, and, so far, inability to avoid a brawl are all major concerns against a killer like Torres. But, given the odds, I’m happy to back the potential of Motta. I like him to fight more intelligently in round 1 and pour on the volume in round 2.

Best Bet: Motta to win (+155) and by Round 2 Knockout

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